The First Lich Lord - C.129


News about the arena spread rapidlyas expected. Livia mobilized her guild at a much more rapid rate, and within the week every member was there setting up a town. Within two weeks, players and NPCs were flocking to the dangerous region. The death marsh was not a friendly region

At first there was an attempt to build a road through the death marsh, following one of the routes people used. To the dismay of those involved, they found that the creatures of the marsh were drawn to the road. It made traveling upon it incredibly dangerous. Of course, they could have countered this by having guard patrols constantly going up and down it. For now it was determined not to be worth it, as the creatures of the death marsh were still growing in power. f

They instead elected to fortify wherever they built with walls and magical defensive measures to repel or kill creatures that came too close.

I strode to the town, the relic illusion ring concealing who I was. In one hand I held Mercy in its staff form so no one could tell the difference between it and a regular quarter staff. There were enough people there now that a stranger was not immediately apparent. I could hear Maxwell playing music from a nearby fire, his zombie conductor helping him.

The sun was setting, entering the twilight hour. Coming from the arena were cheers and the sound of clashing weapons. The arena had been constantly use Only a few of the fights were part of the tournaments. Mostly it was players fighting each other to sharpen their skills or fighting monsters for small rewards and experience.

A betting ring had been established rather quickly, some unknown shadowy figure orchestrating it. I had my suspicions as to who it was, but it didnt really matter to me. The person organizing it being unknown wasnt a bad thing either, since it kept all parties in the dark, and though there was the risk of the organizer disappearing, no one was betting enough as of now to make it too big of a risk. I was certain that would change eventually, but for now she could have her fun.

Can I buy you a drink? I turned my head towards the voice and saw Livia standing there.

Ah I could feel that my smile was strained.

I know who you are, Livia started. Dont worry, I doubt anyone else can see through that illusion, I just have a very particular set of skills.

Ah, yes. Aaron alluded to the fact you have a spymaster side to you.

A girls gotta stay informed. Now, can I buy you a drink?

Sure, thatd be nice, I responded, and Livia gestured towards a building under construction near the arena.

The ground floor of the building was mostly done, and a rough bar occupied one side, along with roughly made wooden tables and chairs. There were stones laid out for what would clearly be a hearth, but for now a campfire crackled, carefully controlled by a metal top to prevent the fire from spreading to the exposed wooden beams above.

The ceiling was rafters and joists. The sound of hammering could be heard coming from someplace. Even though night was coming, people continued to work.

Your people are quite industrious, I noted as I sat down at the bar with Livia.

I contracted some players who specialized in construction to come with us, Livia explained. And since were players, its kind of different. Im pretty sure the builders get experience for the quality of building and how well it turns out in the end.

Really? I knew there was more crafter focused and noncombat paths, but I didnt realize you could be so broad.

That is what Ive been told, Livia agreed, and waved the barkeep over, ordering the single type of beer they currently had. Though its not nearly as much experience as fighting, and they get a certain set of sub-levels, so to speak, that enhance their ability to build things. Its quite the system actually.

I can imagine. I looked around the under-construction tavern. Im assuming youre working with some kind of city planner, so things dont get too chaotic?

Livia snorted in derision. Of course I am! What? Do you take me for amateur?

My apologies. I took the large mug of beer, and producing a potion, poured a little bit of it into the beer. At Livias questioning look, I explained. Im immune to poison, which includes alcohol, unless I add a little life potion. I still cant really taste much, but at least I get the effect.

Livia nodded. I hadnt thought about that being an effect on the undead. To clarify, when I say undead, I do mean living dead, so dont go correcting me on that. I gave her a slightly puzzled look as I took a drink. I almost spat it out. My expression mustve told her something was off. Whats wrong? She eyed her own beer suspiciously.

I just I paused and gathered my thoughts. I guess I havent tried to drink or eat anything since I passed level 100. I could kind of taste that, more than I could before.

Is that a bad thing? Livia asked.

No. I laughed. Far from it. You have no idea how frustrating it is to live in a tasteless world. That being said, Ive never been a beer fan and I dont think the health potions flavor helped the beer. I took another drink anyways, just savoring the fact I could taste, even if a little, and despite it being terrible.

Do all undead lack of taste? Livia took a drink of her own.

No. You stated you understand the difference between undead and living dead, but there really is quite a bit of variance. Though Im living dead, I am far from being an expert on the subject, for I am not a regular living dead. For regular living dead, such as, say I turned you into a living dead human, you would be able to taste, I think. Again, Im not necessarily an expert since Ive never actually done that before.

Is it that simple to just turn people into living dead? Livia asked. You at least make it sound simple with how you say it.

I held my hand out flat, tilting it back and forth. Yes and no. Im a special case because Im a lich, most of the time the process isnt simply done. Lich have access to skills that are far more well suited than most for creating living dead. All of Ravens pets are a kind of living dead. Thats the other thing, there is both zombie versions of creatures and living dead versions. From what I can tell, living dead are quite a bit stronger. All of the strong creatures in this death marsh are living dead at any rate. The undead that are here are almost always the prey for the living dead.

Interesting. Livia looked out towards the marsh where the light had faded to almost complete blackness. How does one tell the difference?

Well, living dead utilize death energy in their bodies where undead are driven by necromantic magic. Living dead are always self-sustaining where undead normally are not.

Are there any advantages to being living dead? Livia asked.

Over what, being an undead? Or over being just regular living?

Both? Livia took a long drink of her beer.

Well, over just being a regular living, the main advantages is the feasibility of death magic and death energy, you also get resistances to some of the related magics. Honestly, its kind of just the inverse of the stuff you are resistant to as a living creature. Regular living dead dont get death cores like I have, so you dont get that advantage. I took a long drink of my beer and continued. Now, there is a load of advantages of being living dead over undead. I pity any person who is just an undead. You would basically be in a constant state of almost ceasing to exist as you try to get enough energy to either not die or evolve into a living dead. And if that wasnt your focus

Livia continued to pester me with questions about the living dead. We finished our first beers and got seconds. The taste, while terrible, did become less noticeable as I drank more. Hazards of drinking, the first shot is always the hardest. I wasnt too worried about being killed, no more than I wouldve been back on Earth. In this death marsh, I had a lot of options for escape, I was a lot stronger than I once was, and even if I was killed, Vito had my phylactery.

Why all the questions about living dead? I finally asked. Do you want to become one? When she didnt answer immediately, I gave her a surprised look. Really? Why?

I dont know, seems fun, would make me different than others. Livia shrugged, her cheeks flushed from the alcohol.

I mean, I could. It wouldnt be for free though, I do have costs.

You would be willing to? Livia asked.

Sure. I dont really have a reason not to. In some ways it might help benefit me if more players were seen as, I made air quotes, evil.

What would it cost? Livia asked. I can see more people than you realize being interested in it. You know players, they like to be different, and being living dead sounds edgy, though you make it sound like youre alive, just in a different way.

Youre basically a life form based off of death instead of based off of life, I said offhandedly as I was thinking on what Id charge. I didnt really get anything for the act itself Then an idea popped into my head. Ill tell you what, if you still want to do this in say, a week I didnt want anyone to make drunken decisions like this, it would not be easily undone I will convert you if you provide the resources. Ill get you a list. After that, I will have Kellnock offer it as a reward from the arena.

That seems fair, Livia nodded. I cant imagine you want to be buried by people wanting their race changed.

Yeah, and its not necessarily a fast process. Truth be told, I havent done it for an intelligent being, so it will take me some preparation to do it the first time just so theres no mistakes. I held up a finger. Winning the reward will not mean I will do it for free, they will still need to provide the resources, and it will not always be offered because I will be leaving here eventually.

Seems fair. Livia set down her empty mug and I finished my beer.

Paying the barkeep, Livia gestured for us to leave. Wed had just enough that we were definitely unstable as Livia headed us towards the arena. Lets see whats going on in there..

As we passed into the arena, I noticed the signs of the dungeon had retracted even further. It was only there if I really focused on it. I wondered if it had been stronger at first, or Kellnock changed something. You do know were inside the dungeon, right? I asked.

I figured as much. Livia chuckled as she grabbed my arm for support. I do have a question, whats preventing a really high level person from entering and wiping the floor for everyone?

Scaling options, I explained. I expressed that concern to Kellnock after he set everything up. He said that up to a certain level, he will be able to essentially suppress their power, so they operate at the equivalent of a lower-level. This will only work as long as Kellnock is more powerful.

Very interesting. Livia leaned a bit more on me, and I began to wonder if it was truly for support. We made our way out to the stands where we sat down and she continued to lean on me. How strong is he? fre(e)novelkiss

I looked at her hand which was resting on my leg and carefully picked it up by the wrist and moved it off. Im not telling you that.

Come on, Livia purred, her hand returning to my leg. I understood what she wanted, and I was beginning to suspect she wasnt as intoxicated as she was acting. She was a crafty woman and knew how to work a guy. I know its just illusion, but you are rather cute.

Now, had my body been where its at now and everything was working correctly, I mightve responded differently, But as it was, Id reached a moment of sobriety and said, Two things, Livia. One, I would be a fool to tell you how powerful Kellnock is, do you take me for a fool? And secondly, none of that, I gestured at my waist, works.

Oh. Livia immediately retracted from me. I noticed that her blouse was open more than it had been, again, something I likely wouldve noticed if I had a not so messed up body. Sorry. She seemed ashamed. Are all living dead that way?

Dont worry about it, I tried to assure her. For another guy it probably wouldve worked, and you wouldve gotten the information you wanted. No, not all living dead are that way. Again, Im kind of a special case.

Livia seemed to recover after a moment and smiled. You know, Aaron and Ezra tell me some interesting things about you. Mind telling me your story? Or as much of it as youre willing to.

Not seeing any reason not to, I spent that night retelling Livia my story. I dont know if she believed me at the time, but I told her anyways. Raven eventually showed up, wearing a Fedora and a suit. I didnt question where she got it from.

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